Six in the morning at Rose Hill, Commencement day. There’s a light mist in the air, but no rain, which is what all of us feared. The campus is impossibly green, and mostly quiet—birds chirping and the distant buzz of a leaf blower.

Margie Ball, the University secretary, is already out on the steps of Keating, checking everything (seats dry enough?) and taping name cards to the seats behind the speaker’s podium. Facilities workers circulate around, making last-minute tweaks. All of a sudden the opening bars of Neil Diamond’s “Coming to America” blare over the speakers. Sound Check.

Coffee has arrived in the press room, on the first floor of Keating Hall. The staff is happy.